We have moved to a new site!

This site will remain open only so you can copy anything you need, such as critques. Do so quickly because the old Forward Motion boards will soon disappear.

Are you ready for the new site? You must create a new login, but the chat login will remain the same as here for now. Click here to join us at the new

Forward Motion for Writers

See you there!

Site Search:
POST DISABLED Printer-friendly copy LOGIN
Lobby 2. Welcome Main Community Discussion Board topic #91386
View in linear mode

Subject: "Self-confidence and writing" Previous topic | Next topic
Mesg #91386 "Self-confidence and writing"
Author apprentice1     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Feb 28th 2003
91 posts
Date Sun Aug-19-12 05:28 AM
Message
  

  

        


Hi, long time lurker, occasional poster here. I wanted to share my experience of the last 18 months, learning how to revise my novel, and hopefully get some replies from other writers who figured out their own process for revising a novel. I know there are a lot of resources and advices for writers on this very topic -- I've read many of them -- but I found when it came to it, I still had to figure out a huge amount for myself, to work out which of the many approaches actually worked for me.

Background: in 2010 I wrote the first 165k word draft of my fantasy novel. After nearly 10 years of numerous failed attempts, that was the first time I'd ever completed a first draft, and I thought I was well on my way.

What followed was 18 long months of trying to revise what I had. At an early stage I lost confidence in my story, and ended up ripping the story and writing apart to try to make it "perfect." I removed entire POV lines, cut scenes I thought might be weak (but which I now think are fine). I cut out most of what I had loved writing in the first place, and that left me increasingly jaded towards the story. I even switched from third person to first, which I don't even like reading most of the time. Revisions to prose began to sound "writerly", because I was obsessing over "improving" the sentence-level stuff. Actually, I wasn't improving it, I was just making it sound more literary, and kind of dry and stilted. For a long time I couldn't understand why I had lost all interest in my book. But, having spent so much time on it, I couldn't bear to abandon it. I was trapped in a kind of hell. Result? Feelings of desperation and depression. And despair.

Recently I went back to the original draft, and made an amazing discovery. Eighteen months on, I love it! Warm characters, a sense of adventure and possibility, and above all FUN.

I then had a flash of insight about how I should revise it, how I should have gone about revising it all along, namely, print out the first draft, and just sort of type it back in, fixing and polishing as I go, but erring very heavily on the side of preserving what's already there. If it works, it stays. That's what I'm doing now. I've rebooted to the original draft, and doing a type-in with fix and polish. Simple, and so far it's working well. Eerily well. I don't know if the finished product will be publishable (I hope so), but I do know it will be finished, which is something I had almost given up hoping for. I guess for me, it's about backing myself and having confidence in that first draft.

The weird thing is, having gone through this process, my self-confidence in relation to my writing is now surging. It's as if realising self-confidence was the underlying problem has allowed me to simply say, "O.K., well, I'll have more confidence in myself, then." And that seems to have dissolved a lot of the blocks I was feeling.

So, yeah. Self-confidence. I think it's a huge part of writing and revising. Love to hear other writers' thoughts on this.


Roger

  

Alert | IP Printer-friendly copy | Reply Disabled | Top

Replies to this topic
RE: Self-confidence and writing, Wandering Author, Aug 19th 2012, #1
RE: Self-confidence and writing, Weird Jim, Aug 19th 2012, #3
RE: Self-confidence and writing, apprentice1, Aug 20th 2012, #5
RE: Self-confidence and writing, apprentice1, Aug 20th 2012, #4
RE: Self-confidence and writing, Dreamerscove, Aug 19th 2012, #2
RE: Self-confidence and writing, apprentice1, Aug 20th 2012, #6
RE: Self-confidence and writing, mskitty, Aug 22nd 2012, #7
RE: Self-confidence and writing, crimson_angel, Aug 26th 2012, #8
RE: Self-confidence and writing, MarFisk, Sep 02nd 2012, #9

Mesg #91387 "RE: Self-confidence and writing"
Author Wandering Author     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Jun 01st 2007
1569 posts
Date Sun Aug-19-12 12:22 PM
Message
  

  

        

In response to Reply # 0

Sun Aug-19-12 12:23 PMby Wandering Author

Your story certainly illustrates two lessons that I've learned, both hugely important, at least to me.

First, unless you are sure your revisions are an improvement, keep a copy of the original draft. There is nothing worse than figuring out you've ruined a perfectly good story after you overwrote it with the ruined version.

Second, the moment you find yourself in a state where you're starting to question your judgement, stop revising. Do not go back to pick up the revision until your head has cleared, whatever and however long that takes. That mental state is a huge red flag indicating danger, as I've learned through painful experience. (When you haven't saved the first draft, the experience is downright agonising, and even when you have, discovering you've just wasted weeks or even months producing a draft that is a thousand times worse then the original is not a pleasant moment.)

~~~~~~Signature's Off~~~~~~

  

Alert | IP Printer-friendly copy | Reply Disabled | Top

    
Mesg #91390 "RE: Self-confidence and writing"
Author Weird Jim     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Jun 13th 2002
6262 posts
Date Sun Aug-19-12 02:27 PM
Message
  

  

        

In response to Reply # 1

First, unless you are sure your revisions are an improvement, keep a copy of the original draft. There is nothing worse than figuring out you've ruined a perfectly good story after you overwrote it with the ruined version.

My first writing teacher said that he had a novel accepted by a publisher, but they wanted a few revisions. He said he decided that what they wanted was the whole thing re-written. He did this and tossed the original. They sent the re-written version back and said he'd ruined it. After this, he had a reasonable career as a writer of short stories and one non-fiction book, but he never wrote another novel.

I see one problem as the variety of different advice books with different appoaches to polishing a novel. There's also the different things a novel may need. Does it need a re-write, a revison, or a heavy edit. All similar but different things things that can lead an author into confusion.

Weird Jim

"Good reading is the only test of good writing"
Robertson Davies. A voice from the attic 1960

  

Alert | IP Printer-friendly copy | Reply Disabled | Top

        
Mesg #91400 "RE: Self-confidence and writing"
Author apprentice1     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Feb 28th 2003
91 posts
Date Mon Aug-20-12 05:43 AM
Message
  

  

        

In response to Reply # 3


>My first writing teacher said that he had
>a novel accepted by a publisher, but they
>wanted a few revisions. He said he decided
>that what they wanted was the whole thing
>re-written. He did this and tossed the
>original. They sent the re-written version
>back and said he'd ruined it. After this,
>he had a reasonable career as a writer of
>short stories and one non-fiction book,
>but he never wrote another novel.


That's a real shame. But not that he had a reasonable career writing short stories, that's fantastic.


Roger

  

Alert | IP Printer-friendly copy | Reply Disabled | Top

    
Mesg #91399 "RE: Self-confidence and writing"
Author apprentice1     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Feb 28th 2003
91 posts
Date Mon Aug-20-12 05:39 AM
Message
  

  

        

In response to Reply # 1


>
>First, unless you are sure your
>revisions are an improvement, keep a copy
>of the original draft. There is nothing
>worse than figuring out you've ruined a
>perfectly good story after you
>overwrote it with the ruined version.


That was one thing I did get right -- saving numerous early and intermediate drafts. A dense fossil record of my various attempts to "fix" the book. Oh, well. On and upwards.

Roger

  

Alert | IP Printer-friendly copy | Reply Disabled | Top

Mesg #91389 "RE: Self-confidence and writing"
Author Dreamerscove     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Sep 25th 2007
1581 posts
Date Sun Aug-19-12 01:49 PM
Message
  

  

        

In response to Reply # 0

Mon Aug-20-12 11:54 PMby Dreamerscove

Oh yes. Always always always keep an original of the first draft. This has saved me so many times with little things as well as entire scenes that I had to go back to the original.

Revision is like all other aspects of writing: it's different according to the writer.

For instance:


  • I write spare first drafts. It's basically the skeleton on which I go back and add other things in my big revision pass.
  • I get it right the first time more often than not. I attribute a lot of this to outlining before I write, so all the big plotholes are usually solved at that point. There's no need for a huge rewrite.
  • I only do three revision passes: The big one where I put in all the notes I made on the way. Second is to do more of a proofing pass for my problem words and then of course spell and grammar check it. Then off it goes to the editor. Third pass is only for those things the editor finds. Yes, the last two don't take all that much time.
  • Overall I like my first drafts. Yes, there is some emotion and description to put in there because I write spare first drafts, but I like them.
  • I give myself a deadline for revision. No story is ever going to be perfect, and I have too many other stories to be written and revised to spend forever on an unattainable quest.


Dean Wesley Smith tackled the subject (he calls it rewriting) on his blog. I don't agree with everything, but the articles and the comments did give me a few pointers, as well as show me that I'm not the only one that works like I do. Not feeling alone in what can be an isolating career choice is a good thing.

Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Rewriting
Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Rewriting Part Two

I use Scriveners pane-view ability in revision. Original draft in the pane on the bottom, revised draft in the pane on the top. If a section is good, then I copy and paste it into the revises panel, making any word tweaks I want along the way. If a scene needs to be completely rewritten, then I just type it into the pane on the top.

I do not type the entire thing back in. Too much is good as-is, and that would take more time that I would rather use to write new work.

Working this way also allows me to track my progress, which is a hard thing to do with revision (tracking by hour doesn't work for me, motivation-wise). I have a yearly new wordcount and a revision wordcount goal. Doing revision using Scrivener, with bringing the revised portion up from the first draft, allows me to track how far in words that I've progressed in a given day, month, or year. Seeing progress helps me stay motivated to keep going. I can literally see how far I've come since I started the project.

~~~~~~Signature's Off~~~~~~

  

Alert | IP Printer-friendly copy | Reply Disabled | Top

    
Mesg #91401 "RE: Self-confidence and writing"
Author apprentice1     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Feb 28th 2003
91 posts
Date Mon Aug-20-12 06:06 AM
Message
  

  

        

In response to Reply # 2

Thanks for posting those links. I'd read a couple of posts on his blog previously, but not those ones. Interesting, and very topical to me right now.


Roger

  

Alert | IP Printer-friendly copy | Reply Disabled | Top

    
Mesg #91417 "RE: Self-confidence and writing"
Author mskitty     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list Click to send message via AOL IM
Author Info Member since Mar 28th 2008
556 posts
Date Wed Aug-22-12 10:26 PM
Message
  

  

        

In response to Reply # 2

I'm not sure when I first heard the term 'edited to death' but I remember when I first realized that I'd done it. All the voice was torn out of the first chapter.

Luckily I could rip out the offending chapter and splice the one scene I needed to chapter 2.

I always save the first draft - and these days I don't revise as much. I'll polish my mechanics until they shine, chase commas, 'ands' and 'thats' while hunting down repetitive phrases.

~~~~~~Signature's Off~~~~~~

  

Alert | IP Printer-friendly copy | Reply Disabled | Top

Mesg #91423 "RE: Self-confidence and writing"
Author crimson_angel     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Mar 08th 2003
5001 posts
Date Sun Aug-26-12 12:24 PM
Message
  

        

In response to Reply # 0

Sun Aug-26-12 12:25 PMby crimson_angel

Yep, I've been there. I have a novel that I've been tinkering with --on and off -- for 6 years. Every time I had someone critique it, I became convinced that it was crap and needed to be rewritten. Four times. After the last rewrite, a few writer friends suggested I set it aside for a year and get much-needed distance from it.

I can already tell you, without having looked at it since last December, that it's not crap. Granted, ther are still problems, but nothing that requires another total rewrite. I got caught up in a rewriting loop partially b/c I didn't belief in myself as a writer. I thought everyone else knew better. Don't get me wrong -- the crits were all very helpful, but I needed to stop rewriting.

It also helped that I wrote -- and revised -- the novel I just released. Revising that one was difficult, but nowhere near as difficult as the other one. Mainly b/c I had a deadline and *had* to have a polished draft ready by such-and-such date. It kept me from going back and endlssly rewriting everything, and with the help of my awesome editor, I was able to look at it objectively. And I didn't rewrite it, either (well, except for one part b/c of a logic error).

Now that I know I can do a good revision, I'm not as worried about the process. I can certainly do it again.

Oh, and I keep all my drafts - first to number whatever, just in case.

~~~~~~Signature's Off~~~~~~

  

Alert | IP Printer-friendly copy | Reply Disabled | Top

Mesg #91472 "RE: Self-confidence and writing"
Author MarFisk     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list Click to send message via AOL IM
Author Info Member since Dec 22nd 2002
44599 posts
Date Sun Sep-02-12 11:06 AM
Message
  

  

        

In response to Reply # 0

I've retyped stories often because my voice has changed. It allows me to clean up the micro-elements without destroying the tone and all. That's a great suggestion from DC with the paned view in Scrivner. I'll have to try that.

I've also edited things to death, or done so when I wasn't in the right or same headspace. My biggest problem with that is polishing queries. I make them so professional that all the life is gone from them.

I took Holly Lisle's HTRYN (How to Revise Your Novel) course and it's got me back into reading on paper, though I'm still working on an economical but functional "paper" solution using an eReader that can have real notes on it. I've got two in the running, a Kindle and a Sony, but haven't gotten up the nerve to dump the cash there.

Ultimately, though, if you don't enjoy the story, don't edit it. When you come back and discover the story anew and it resonates, that's the time to do so.

~~~~~~Signature's Off~~~~~~

  

Alert | IP Printer-friendly copy | Reply Disabled | Top

Lobby 2. Welcome Main Community Discussion Board topic #91386 Previous topic | Next topic
Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.2 for Forward Motion Writers' Community
Copyright 1997-2003 DCScripts.com

TigerTech